Tuesday 21st April.The Coronet Diaries.

LAUREN BACALL IN ‘SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH’ 1985 (photo John Haynes)

I have not succeeded in finding the metaphysical quote about ‘owning your face’ that precedes George Orwell’s. My horn-playing, croissant baking, child training, civil servant, Rapunzel emailed me in the night to volunteer the reference below about character and the middle-aged face. I shall continue to search for the original reference. One thing to be certain of is that all ‘artists’ of all persuasions beg, borrow and steal, from their progenitors. It is a badge of honour to know the forest- trails, to recognise the clues/clews that most artist will weave into the fundament of their work. Or theories!

Abraham Lincoln, when he was President of the U.S., was advised to include a certain man in his cabinet. When he refused he was asked why he would not accept him. “I don’t like his face,” the President replied. “But the poor man isn’t responsible for his face,” responded his advocate. “Every man over forty is responsible for his face” countered Lincoln.

I have over-booked my diary today so I exerted myself to yoga before breakfast. Normally, I would ask someone if they could move but there is nowhere to move anyone to. I am going to speak to three people this morning and by co-incidence they are all in a solitary lockdown. Regardless of how resourceful people are. In each of these cases I am humbled by the ways in which they have each differently measured out their days in creative hours. But, living alone, despite all the social media/family contact, I know our conversation, which will be of another tenor, will be important to them. And to me. I shall self-isolate myself along with Dido as companion in the office.

The inconvenience of exercise is that it must be mediated in spaces before food has been consumed. A juggling act. Almost everyone I Zoom with is now doing regular exercise online. Pilates classes seem to outnumber Yoga. Unlike therapy, I cannot imagine this trend wont continue. Prior to lockdown it was only the privileged who had expensive Pelotons, but now there is a growing democracy and menu of online physical participation. It is easier to fit in online Pilates/Yoga/Personal Training classes into a busy schedule when travelling, or peak time sessions are excluded.

Therapy may prove to be different: not simply because people yearn for face to face contact. Not all do. I am working on a paper about the differences. Tanya tells me that many of her ‘list’ seem to prefer the convenience of online, I think I would have a different reckoning but the jury is still out. I think the difficulties arise depending on the way an individual’s life is configured. Many of the men that consult me are used to living their professional lives in large organisations but with private offices and PA’s guarding their diaries and doors. They would not feel comfortable booking in a Zoom. ‘They’ rather enjoy the pilgrimage away from responsibility and demands to the consulting room. Mainly travelling by public transport or bike. Usually arriving with a Pret coffee to hand. (The carton is invariably left for me to dispose of!)

I have observed for those men who live alone, or have a securely designated office, work space or studio our Zoom sessions are not a problem. For others it is different. While it may already have become second nature to Chair meetings, and make power point presentations to gatherings of twenty or more, or even to attend Al Anon meetings on Zoom, in the spare bedroom. It is harder for men, or most men, to give up their defences and reach down to their feelings, when they are in the marital home. Not because they are unhappily married, but because the qualitative differences of tone between even the muffled sounds of business-speak and emotional angst are distinguishable. (As Dido so keenly observes.) Wives may or may not be persuaded to respect boundaries and overcome their curiosity. (There is always a great deal of curiosity, or anxiety amongst couples about therapy. By nature we females tend to be more curious than men! )Children, even less likely to respect boundaries, are liable to come flying in. There are some people, particularly warring couples with children, who have taken to conducting their session from the car. Individuals too.

There will be so many consequences to COVID19 and the concept of working from home, from whatever professional base. Being able, or privileged to create watertight privacy, for those who will now choose to spend more time at home, will become a deciding factor. For those with large enough gardens there may be a run in potting sheds as well as divorce. The current divorce statistics are alleged to be as high as 40%, which is disturbing. In the recent BBC 1 program Child Of Our Time Turning Twenty, one of the tragic conclusions in the credits was that by the time the children reached twenty again 40% of the parents had divorced. It makes me sad and confused to think that the magic of instant physical attraction must be a poor vector of longterm compatibility. Yet we also know that sexual communication is often the glue of lasting marriage. A paradox but then most things are.

It seems that another consequence of COVID will be that not only the morticians, the hairdressers and the dentists will be busier but the divorce lawyers will become busier still. I asked Tanya for her ‘quickie’ view:

I think we are all going to find the upcoming period to be divisive, strengthening fundamentally healthy relationships and making it very difficult for those with potent underlying issues to survive.  

I have also observed in more than one situation where couples are locked down that one partner – who has never shown any inclination to have therapy – has started to feel, and to request, they would also like to have a privileged weekly space in which to share their anxieties and try to contain the uncertain future, and asked me to find them a therapist. I cannot begin to entertain the demand for trauma therapy that will/is being required for patients who have recovered from COVID and the professionals who have nursed them. Group therapy will become one possible solution.

I think John Keats would have approved of this article on tolerating ‘negative capability’ in times of uncertainty. Don’t Let Uncertainty Paralyse You. A pity he is not attributed.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2020/04/dont-let-uncertainty-paralyze-you

joh

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